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District law currently prohibits production breweries from building outdoor beer gardens or distilleries from serving cocktails from a sidewalk cafe. But that could change with legislation that Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced today to the D.C. Council.
The legislation, which already has the support of every councilmember, would allow D.C. distilleries, breweries, and potential wineries to apply for the same “sidewalk cafe” or “summer garden” permits that restaurants and bars have.
Among the alcohol producers hoping to take advantage of such law is Atlas Brew Works. Co-founder Justin Cox says he contacted McDuffie about the issue and worked with his office to introduce the legislation. Cox says the Ivy City brewery has 35 to 40 feet of public space in front of its facility on West Virginia Avenue NE that it would like to convert into a fenced off beer garden with picnic tables where people can hang out during tastings or while they’re enjoying a pint.
Although the legislation was co-introduced by every member of the Council, it could be a while until outdoor alcohol consumption becomes a reality for local booze producers. There will be a public hearing on the proposed change before the bill is marked up by the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, voted on by the Council, and passed on to the mayor and Congress for approval. McDuffie’s office hopes that the legislation will become law by this summer, but even then, it can take some time for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to approve permits.
“It might be a little while before this comes to fruition,” Cox says. “But I think it will be great to sit outside in the sunshine on a nice day and have a pint.”
Photo via Atlas Brew Works